Road to failure
Jack Shenker’s assessment of the Corbyn movement (“Inside Left,” December) was thoughtful and in depth, raising many valid points that the Labour leader’s detractors—both inside and outside the party—would do well to take on board. However, I fear that some of the strengths to which he alludes will form the basis of the ultimate failure of “Corbynism” and Labour’s recent conversion to full-throated socialism.
While broad coalitions are always praised for their diversity of opinion, Labour’s uneasy alliance of the far left (including self-avowed communists) and pragmatic (and unhappy) centrists will, I suspect, fracture once the enforced unity of a general election campaign has passed. A yearning for, and fetishisation of, grassroots “bottom up” politics may find itself as misplaced in the 21st century as 1970s corporatism.
This is partly why I withdrew my support for Labour ahead of this election and reluctantly backed a Johnson premiership.
Tom Harris is a columnist for the Telegraph and former Scottish Labour politician
Shenker says much of value on the Corbyn project and its reinsertion of socialism into British political discourse—though nothing on the contribution made, I would suggest, by Ed Miliband. But did the Labour Party risk “Pasokification”? PASOK was indeed hollowed out, destroying with it the hopes of the post-Colonels generation. Its nemesis dates back to its own creator, Andreas Papandreou.
Early PASOK mobilised those wishing to heal the wounds of the Civil War, modernise Greece’s traditional social structures and looking for an independent future for their country. The country would be rid of the US “bases of death” and leave the European Economic Community. Neither of those promises was to be kept.
Late PASOK was pure clientilism, its laziness and corruption allowing the right-wing opposition to edge it from office in 2004.
It had the misfortune of being back in power in 2009 when the music stopped and 20 years of politicians’ plundering of the state and lying statistics led to the Greek financial crisis. With trust dashed in PASOK as a guardian of progressive change, its vote fell by two-thirds. And then, by Clegg-like clinging to office as minority partner in a conservative government, it lost two-thirds of the little support it retained.
Yes, PASOK at one time offered the vision of a different society that Corbyn does today. Its…